Locksmiths install, repair and fix locks in cars and buildings. Locksmithing is a professional trade and there are specific tools that every locksmith should have at their disposal. Since 1960, expert locksmiths at Ernie’s Lock Company have proudly serviced the Maryland and Metro D.C. area. As your neighborhood locksmith, Ernie’s has the knowledge, skills and tools for commercial, residential or emergency locksmithing jobs.
Essential Locksmith Tools
Credit cards, bobby pins and aluminum cans are not suitable tools for a locksmith. At Ernie’s, we stay up to date with the professional tools locksmiths use and industry trends. If your locksmith shows up without these tools, you might just be dealing with an amateur.
Tools Locksmiths Use for Standard Jobs
No matter the job, every locksmith trains to use a basic set of tools at work. Professional locksmiths bring these tools to each job site and use them for standard projects:
Lock pick set: Includes hooks, rakes, diamond picks and other tools to manually pick locks.
Padlock shims: Inserts a thin piece of metal or two around the lock shackle to open the lock.
Broken key extractors: Removes broken keys, jammed pieces or foreign objects from the key slot.
Lock pin tumbler tweezers: Picks up small pieces off of the floor or ground effectively.
Snap gun: Strikes the pins all at once to open the lock quickly in an emergency.
Laser key cutter and duplicator: Cuts and duplicates standard and unique keys s.uch as auto, simple cut, barrel and dimple keys.
Hand-held scope: Helps with handling small parts or working in small spaces
Toolbox: Holds heavy-duty latches and hinges, screwdrivers and other tools for unexpected replacements or unforeseeable problems.
Tools Locksmiths Use for Homes and Apartments
If you forget, misplace or lose your keys, you can end up locked out of your house. While everyone gets locked out from time to time, many people don’t know what to do when it happens. While you might not be able to avoid the embarrassment, you can return to your home or apartment quickly when your locksmith has the proper tools. Ernie’s has essential locksmith tools for these purposes, including:
Lock and safe scope: Provides extra light to make it more natural and easy to re-key locks.
Tension wrench: Stops any unwanted movement and stays steady to get the job done efficiently.
Key decoder: Determines the pin depth using a plastic or metal card on different keys such as Weslock or Schlage.
Lock plug spinner: Rotates the interior of the lock when someone picks it in the wrong direction.
Tools Locksmiths Use for Cars
Whether you misplace your keys or your fob dies, getting locked out of your car can be frustrating or frightening, especially if it’s late or you’re in an unknown area. However, using a coat hanger or breaking a window are not ideal ways to open your car. To guarantee a job well done, your locksmith will come prepared with the right tools. Essential locksmith tools for vehicles vary depending on the type of car, truck or van, but often include:
Universal gas cap tryout key: Opens most gas caps when someone loses their key designed to prevent gas theft.
Automotive wedges: Slides in between the window and rubber window scraper without scratching the door or breaking the window.
Slim-Jim set: Pries open car doors when the key is locked inside or lost.
Auto shutter toolset: Holds open the dust covers for wide access to key slots.
Auto jigglers: Picks the lock for foreign and domestic cars, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles.
Long reach tools: Reach across the console to unlock the opposite door or retrieve keys left in the ignition.
Contact Ernie’s Lock Company to Speak With Licensed Locksmiths
Locked out of your building? If your school, office, apartment or restaurant needs a locksmith, we provide modern solutions with time-tested tools. Send us a picture, text or email about your problem, and we’ll give you a close-to-accurate quote before we even arrive on site. If you prefer to come in, we have a shop you can stop by to ask us anything and see our essential locksmith tools.
We arrive on time for scheduled appointments and we’ll get to your location quickly in the event of an emergency. With our 90 day warranty on all labor, we’re proud to follow up and take extra time to troubleshoot with you. Contact the licensed locksmiths at Ernie’s today! We know how to handle essential locksmith tools to get the job done right.
It’s Monday morning. You’ve made it through rush-hour traffic and are ready to get a jump on the week.
You step up to your company door, put the key in the lock and turn.
As you go to pull the key from the lock, you realize it won’t move.
You twist and pull again.
At this point, most people begin to panic. They start pulling at the key and shaking the lock. They call someone or search for the number of a locksmith who’s answering calls early in the morning.
There’s an easier way.
If this has happened to you, you might be able to resolve the problem yourself and get your work back on track.
Tips for Removing a Key Stuck in a Lock
The best thing you can do when your key gets stuck in a lock is to stay calm and assess the situation. After all, whether you fix it yourself or end up calling a professional, you need to understand what’s happened to your key before you can move forward. To determine the best course of action, ask yourself these questions:
Is my key broken or is it in one piece?
If my key is broken, did it break in such a way that all of the cuts are still in the lock or are some of them on the piece in my hand?
Do I have access to tools and other items I may need to remove the key?
Is there a co-worker or trusted neighbor nearby who can help me?
Will my business be secure if I need to leave the key in place while I go to the store to get the supplies I need?
This last one is particularly important, because, depending on how the key is stuck in the lock — whether it turned far enough that the door can be unlocked — it may not be safe to leave your business unattended. If all of the key’s cuts are inside of the lock, and someone could turn it with a screwdriver to open the door, then ask someone to stand guard while you run to the store.
When Your Key Is Stuck — But in One Piece
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can then turn your attention to the task at hand. If your key is intact, then the good news is that this scenario is relatively common. It’s also easily resolved. When a whole key gets stuck in the lock, it typically happens for one of these reasons:
Your key is new and has small, rough “burrs” that become caught in the locking mechanism.
Your key is old and warped, which allowed it to get caught inside of the lock.
Your lock itself is old or has pieces that have become loose over time.
Regardless of the culprit, the first thing you should do is stop and take a deep breath. If you start to panic and start to shake the key, you risk breaking it off in the lock. You could also do more damage to the lock itself. It will be easier to remove the key if it’s in one piece.
Once you’re calm, how do you get a broken key out of the door? You’ll need to try a few steps methodically.
1. Push the Keyhole Plug
First, try to push the keyhole plug, which is the small metal circle that surrounds the keyhole and, in this case, your key itself. If the plug is loose, it can sometimes cause the key to become stuck in the lock. To push the plug — and hopefully free your key — you’ll need to:
Make sure the key is pushed into the lock as far as it will go.
Turn the key back to the original spot it was in when you inserted it into the lock. This helps the pin tumblers to align correctly, which is essential to opening the lock and removing your key.
While still holding the key with one hand, use your other hand to push gently on the plug just next to the key itself.
As you push, gently turn the key and pull it out.
Many times, this is all you’ll need to remove a key that’s stuck.
2. Lubricate the Lock
When you have a new key, it sometimes still has little burrs that can get caught on the lock pins. When this happens, some extra lubrication can help free your key and prevent it from getting stuck again. A spray lubricant or a graphite powder is all you need. Many people keep this on hand, but if you don’t have a can nearby, it’s easily found at any hardware or big box store.
To apply lubricant or graphite powder to your lock:
If using a spray lubricant, attach the plastic tubing that came with the can to achieve a more precise spray.
Spray or squeeze a generous amount of lubricant or powder into the lock along both sides of the key.
Wait one minute to allow the lubricant or powder to take hold, then gently turn the key as you normally would and remove it.
Once the key is free from the lock, make sure to spray more lubricant or squeeze more powder into the keyhole to prevent future incidents. If you suspect that your new key was the culprit, take the key to a hardware store or key maker to be buffed and have those burrs removed so that they won’t cause problems down the road.
3. Push the Rim Cylinder
If a lubricant doesn’t help, you may have a loose rim cylinder — the round metal part surrounding the keyhole and plug — which is supposed to stay still when the key turns. When the rim cylinder is loose, it can sometimes turn with the key, preventing the lock from turning. You can easily correct this by stabilizing the rim.
Use one hand to push the rim cylinder in toward the door.
Use your other hand to turn your key and gently pull it from the lock.
If you do identify a loose rim cylinder as the culprit, you can attempt to repair it later or, if the lock is older, it may simply be time to replace the entire lock.
If your key is stuck, and not broken, but you don’t have lubricant handy, you can also try one of these hacks to get your key free:
Wrap a couple of ice cubes in a plastic baggie and hold them up to the key, as close to the lock hole as you can. In warm weather, this can cause the metal of the key to contract just enough that you can pull it gently from the lock. In colder weather, this may not work as well, so use your best judgment in determining whether this is worth a try.
Unfortunately, sometimes a key gets stuck in a lock because it breaks inside. Or, sometimes a stuck key can become broken in the process of trying to remove it from a lock. When this happens, people can often assume the worst and immediately call a locksmith. While it certainly can become necessary to call a professional, this does not need to be the first thing you do. Before you call and say, “Help! I’ve just broken my key inside the lock,” there are many things you can do to attempt to remove your broken key on your own.
Try these steps first:
Spray or squeeze a small amount of lubricant or graphite powder into the lock hole.
If your key broke in such a way that some of the key’s cuts — the ridges that align with the locking mechanism — are on the part that is not inside of the lock, then the key was not able to engage with the lock. Using a pair of needlenose pliers, grab the visible end of the key in the lock and gently pull it out.
If the key broke in a way that all of the cuts are inside of the lock, then the lock may have been partially engaged before the key broke. Insert a small screwdriver into the lock and turn it back to its original position. Then use pliers to pull out the key. If this is the case, never leave the key and lock unattended. If you can insert a screwdriver into the lock, so can someone intent on breaking into your business. If you need to step away from the door to run to the store for lubricant or tools, ask a co-worker or trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your business.
If the pliers don’t do the trick, pop over to your local hardware store and purchase a broken key extractor kit. These kits are relatively inexpensive, and they come with a variety of tools to fit the size of your particular lock. Once you select the tool that’s the right size for your lock, slide it into the lock and pull out the broken part of the key.
If the screwdriver and pliers don’t work, there is one other option before turning to a professional. Insert the blade of a scroll saw or jigsaw into the keyhole. The blade should be facing down. As you push it in, you should feel the blade’s teeth grab onto one of the cuts on the key. When this happens, pull the blade of the saw out of the keyhole. The broken key should come with it.
Tips for Preventing a Key From Getting Stuck
Accidents happen, but it’s relatively simple to prevent your key from breaking and/or getting stuck in a lock. All it takes is a little bit of foresight to follow these steps:
Have a new key made when you notice any wear or bending in your old one. Keeping your key in good condition will prevent breaks.
Pay attention to the condition of your locks. If you notice any loose parts, tighten them.
Spray your locks with lubricant or de-icer every few months to keep the inside of the locks in working order and combat build up of moisture and dirt.
If you do have a key that gets stuck in your lock, use that incident as a prompt to perform some routine maintenance on your locks. Take stock of all the exterior locks around your business — not just the one that ate your key — to make sure that they are in good working order. Finally, make sure you have one or more spare keys you can use if your primary key becomes warped or broken.
When to Contact a Professional
When your key gets stuck in a lock, there are many things you can try to attempt to remove it yourself. Hopefully, the steps we’ve explained above are all you need to keep your keys and locks in good working order. But, if you don’t have access to certain tools or you don’t have any luck with these steps, then it may be time to call a professional. A professional locksmith can remove the broken key and, if needed, repair or replace your locks, keeping you and your business safe and sound.
If you do need to call a professional locksmith, it’s critical to call one you can trust. With more than 55 years of experience, Ernie’s Lock Company Inc. is proud to offer high-quality, affordable locksmith services to Prince George’s County, Riverdale Park, and surrounding areas, including the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore Metro areas. Our experienced technicians are skilled in commercial, residential and automotive lock systems of all kinds, and strive to provide our customers with fast service and peace of mind.
What makes Ernie’s unique is that we have a brick-and-mortar location, giving our clients a place to walk in to obtain accurate — and free — estimates if they prefer face-to-face interaction above a phone call. Whether you’re a business owner interested in installing electrical access or master key systems or a homeowner looking to install new locks on your windows and doors, Ernie’s is the one for the job.
But, what if there was a simple way to improve your home security and lower your risk of a burglary — without installing a security system?
Don’t get us wrong — a high-quality security system is an effective way to protect your home and valuables. But often times, when homeowners are thinking about safety and security, they overlook an equally important form of protection — their locks.
A good lock can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your home or even your business. But a good lock is only good if it’s being used correctly.
The 6 Types of Locks
To use a lock correctly, you must first understand that there are many different kinds out there. Different locks are designed for different purposes, which means certain locks are best for homes and other locks are better for businesses. There are also different levels of security offered from variations in each category.
By understanding how a lock is designed and what it should be used for, you can make wise choices that will better protect your home and business. So, what are all the types of locks?
Padlocks are not embedded into a door or piece of furniture. They can be attached or detached at will by using a shackle to keep a door closed or an object in place. These are often used to lock sheds, school lockers and even luggage. While padlocks are common, they are also considered to be a relatively weak lock because it is easy to break them if you have access to bolt cutters, a drill or a hammer. They are also easy to pick.
In general, there are three kinds of padlocks in use today:
1. Combination Padlocks
These padlocks are unlocked by entering a set series of numbers into the lock which means, in theory, it can only be unlocked by someone who knows the correct numerical sequence. The numerical sequence can also be reset to keep the code secure.
2. Key-Based Padlocks
Similar in appearance to combination padlocks, these locks are opened with a small key rather than a numerical sequence. While some people prefer not needing to remember a set of numbers to access their belongings, there is a risk of losing the key because they are typically quite small. While some key-based padlocks can be re-keyed, this isn’t true of all models, so if you misplace the key, you may end up having to break the lock to gain access to whatever the lock is protecting.
3. TSA-Approved Locks
Many travelers prefer to lock their bags with a padlock when they check them in before a flight. The problem is that sometimes TSA needs to open bags and suitcases to inspect the contents. Since this inspection often happens after bags have been checked, their owner is not nearby to open the lock. In the past, this has resulted in TSA needing to cut the lock to complete an inspection. To prevent this, TSA worked alongside several lock companies to create a special padlock designed to correspond to a special master key that is only held by TSA representatives.
A deadbolt is a mainstay in home security because it is harder to pick than a standard knob lock or padlock. Many are designed as cylinder locks which are identified by a cylinder that surrounds the lock itself and runs through the door. Cylinder locks are designed to correspond to one specific key. They cannot be opened without the key that is designed to fit into the sequence of the pins held inside of the lock.
Deadbolts can either be installed on the surface of the door — think of a bolt that slides from the top of the door itself into a casing secured into the door jam — or it can be installed inside of the door for greater security. The internal deadbolt is more common because it is more secure. It also has more variations.
1. Single Cylinder Locks
Today’s most common deadbolt, a single cylinder lock is mounted inside the door. It has a twist knob to lock it from the inside and then has an exterior cylinder that requires either a key or a code to unlock.
2. Double Cylinder Locks
Similar to the single cylinder lock, a double cylinder lock is mounted in the door itself. The difference is that, rather than having a twist knob on the inside, a key is needed to lock or unlock the door from both the inside and outside. In some ways, this is safer because it prevents a burglar from breaking a piece of glass in your door or a nearby window to reach in and unlock the deadbolt from the inside. However, some argue that this type of lock can be somewhat of a fire hazard because it of the extra time it takes to find the key and get out of the house in event of a fire.
3. Lockable Thumbturn Style
This style combines the best of both the single and double cylinder lock. The exterior side of the lock can only be unlocked by a key. The inside includes a thumbturn knob that also has a keyhole. When you’re home, you can leave the thumbturn unlocked and the door will operate the same way a single cylinder would — locking only when you throw the twist knob. The thumbturn can only be locked and unlocked with a key, adding an additional layer of protection when you’re away from home.
4. Jimmy Proof Deadbolt
Also known as a “Vertical Deadbolt,” this lock is commonly used on double doors and apartment entry doors, Jimmy Proof deadbolts employ two interlocking vertical bolts. When the lock is engaged, those bolts go into a strike plate. The benefit of a Jimmy Proof deadbolt is that it’s easy to install and difficult for potential burglars to open because it can’t be disengaged by prying apart the doorframe. Some models even have a way to lock the lock itself so that you can’t use a key to gain entry from the outside. This prevents a burglar from picking the lock while you’re at home.
5. Mortise Locks
Mortise locks are often thrown into a category of locks called Rim Cylinders, although the two are slightly different. The reason they are often classified together is that these two locks perform very similar functions, acting as both a doorknob and a deadbolt. The downside to Mortise Locks is that they are installed by cutting a pocket into the door, which can weaken the integrity of the structure, although some say that the strength of the lock makes up for the weaker door. They are generally found in older doors and used because they fit into the aesthetics of older homes.
Locks in Handles
Locks in handles can be found on all sorts of doors — both internal and external — but their strengths and weakness can make one better than another depending on where you use them.
1. Knob Locks
Knob locks are the locks you see on doorknobs all over your home. On one side is a small knob that turns to lock the door from the inside. What’s on the other side can vary, but typically it will house a small key cylinder. When used on an exterior door, these should always be used in tandem with a deadbolt of some kind because knob locks are easy to break or pick, and they do not provide a significant defense against a burglar.
2. Lever Handle Locks
Lever handle locks are similar to knob locks because they have a small knob on one side and then a key cylinder on the other. They are often used on interior doors in commercial buildings because they are easy to turn, and they comply with the regulations outlined in the Americans With Disabilities Act. Also like knob locks, lever handle locks are a poor line of defense against intruders. If used on any exterior doors or in locations with sensitive information, they should always be used in tandem with a deadbolt lock.
Euro Profile Cylinders
Widely used across Europe and other places around the world, these locks have found their place in the United States on sliding glass doors or on interior doors that divide two rooms. These locks are generally considered to be a poor line of defense against potential intruders because they are particularly prone to lock snapping, especially if the lock is not the proper length for the door system it is meant to protect.
1. Single Euro Profile Cylinder
The Single Euro Profile Cylinder activates the locking mechanism by using a key on the interior side of the door to engage the lock. It cannot be unlocked from the outside.
2. Double Euro Profile Cylinder
The Double Euro Profile Cylinder can be locked or unlocked on either side by a key.
The thumbturn uses a thumbturn on one side and has a keyed lock on the other.
A furniture lock is exactly what it sounds like — a lock used on a piece of furniture. Typically, these are found in desk drawers or filing cabinets.
These locks should never be relied on to provide total security all of the time. The quality and durability of these locks vary, so if you are attempting to store valuable items or highly sensitive information, these locks should be used in conjunction with other more effective locks on the windows and doors of the room where your furniture resides. Two kinds of furniture locks are typically used:
1. Push Button Style
When this type of lock is secured, there is a rod that comes out of the back of it that anchors it into place. When you use a key to unlock it, the front part will pop out, bringing the rod back into the mechanism so that you can open whatever drawer or cabinet was held shut with the lock.
2. Bolt Style
With a bolt style lock, a flat metal piece comes out from the lock to anchor it in the locked position. When the key is inserted and turned into the lock, the flat piece retracts to open the drawer.
New Lock Technology
These days, technology is involved in every area of our lives, and, now, it’s even at our doorstep. Thanks to new technology, your home or business can have locks that are controlled by more than just your keys.
1. Smart Locks
Smart locks are tied into your home’s wifi network. You can log into your system from anywhere to push a button or issue a command for your doors to lock or unlock. The great thing about smart Locks is that if you are out and realize you forgot to lock your door, you can simply push a button on your phone and correct the problem. Some smart locks also come with camera features that allow you to see who is on your doorstep before you unlock the door.
2. Electric Locks
An electric door lock is similar to the electric locks on cars. Inside of the locking mechanism is an actuator that connects the cylinder of the doorknob to a small motor inside of the door or frame. When a numerical code is entered, the actuator communicates with the motor and the door is unlocked. Electric locks can be a good option for someone who loses their keys a lot or doesn’t like to carry keys around. The downside to an electric lock is that it doesn’t work if the power fails. However, most models have a traditional key option included in them so that you can bypass the keypad if needed.
Types of Keys
Just as there are many different kinds of locks, there are also several different kinds of keys designed to make your locks — as well as your home or business — safer.
1. Dimple Keys
Dimple keys have two sets of dimple-shaped cones on the body of the key that are designed to correspond with sets of pins inside the lock. These keys are nice because they are the same on each side, which means the key doesn’t have to be oriented in a specific way for the lock to be opened.
2. Double-Sided and Four-Sided Keys
The terms “Double-Sided” and “Four-Sided” refer to the number of teeth in the key. Keys with four sets of teeth are more durable than their double-sided counterparts, and the extra sets of teeth also make their corresponding locks more difficult to pick.
3. Tubular Key
This tube-shaped key is often used for locks on bikes or vending machines. The tube-shaped key corresponds to a tubular pin inside of the lock. When inserted into the matching tube, the lock is opened.
4. Skeleton Key
“Skeleton Key” is a term used to refer to types of keys that can open any lock in a particular category.
About Ernie’s Lock and Key Services
Finding the right lock for your home or business is one of the best things you can do to protect the people and assets that are important to you. Let Ernie’s Lock and Key Services help you select and install the right locks for you. With more than 50 years in the locksmith business, our staff provides prompt, professional service in Riverdale Park, Prince George’s County and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for a free estimate.
Your life is fast-paced. You spend time at home and work and complete a million tasks in between — whether that’s picking up the kids, running errands, making appointments or something else. Amid all the bustle, it’s easy to lose a key or get locked out of your home. What’s not so easy is dealing with the aftermath while the rest of your life barrels forward.
The need for a quick key duplication service near you is never more apparent than when you’re locked out. Companies like KeyMe have answered the call with automated duplicate key maker machines placed in strategic locations. Though an automatic duplicate key maker is useful, it may not be a one-size-fits-all solution as advertised. Let’s take a look at the KeyMe model to see why you may want to think twice and call a locksmith instead.
What Is KeyMe?
KeyMe is a New-York-based company founded in 2012. As a self-proclaimed “locksmith in a box,” KeyMe will strive to provide a duplicate key maker near you when you need it most. If you’ve ventured into a Rite Aid, Kmart or 7-Eleven store in the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, you may have noticed a KeyMe machine. KeyMe kiosks enable you to make duplicate keys on the spot, which is supposed to save you a trip to the locksmith.
KeyMe provides an easy, convenient method for producing spare keys for your home, business, car or just about anything else that requires a key. They also allow you to create copies of RFID key cards or key fobs. These devices use radio waves to store and read information on a tag. Depending on where you live and work, your apartment or work building may use an RFID tag to allow access into certain areas.
How Does KeyMe Work?
KeyMe promises to make copies of your keys in a flash, but how does it deliver? Currently, the system uses a combination of kiosks and a mobile app.
When you visit an automated KeyMe kiosk, the machine will walk you through how to copy a key. Here’s a summary of what might unfold as you use the service:
The kiosk gives you options for different key types to duplicate. The selection includes standard keys, high-security keys, vehicle keys, RFID tags and key fobs.
Once you select the option you desire, the machine will prompt you to place your key in a designated slot.
The KeyMe kiosk will then use a complicated algorithm to optically scan and interpret your key’s data.
If you’ve selected a standard key option, the machine can cut the key immediately.
For more specialized keys, the machine will tell you the replacement key will need to be shipped to your home within a few days.
After you print your key or order a copy, the machine will prompt you to make an account to store the key’s information. This is where the KeyMe app comes into play.
In addition to making instant copies of your keys, the KeyMe kiosk enables you to create and store digital copies of your keys for future duplication. The downloadable KeyMe app allows you to digitally store your keys on your mobile device, which produces a code that’s stored in the cloud. You can use the code to order new keys and have them shipped to you, or you can share it with anyone who may need access to print a spare key.
Pros of Using KeyMe Kiosks
There are just a few pros to choosing an automated key duplication service. The first is that they are relatively instantaneous. While no locksmith or automated key maker is truly instant, you can have a replacement in about 15 minutes. Another pro is that in the event of a lockout, you can cut a new key using their app. All you need to do is drive to the kiosk to pick it up. Although these benefits of KeyMe kiosks sound great at first, the cons of KeyMe far outweigh the pros.
Cons of Using KeyMe Kiosks
There are also several downsides to using the automated KeyMe kiosks. An overarching disadvantage is that KeyMe keys do not always deliver optimal quality and may not fit properly into the lock. Here are four more cons to choosing a service like KeyMe.
1. The Security Risk
Services like KeyMe pose several security risks. Anyone who has brief access to your keys — like your friends, car valets, mechanics, thieves and more — can take them to a kiosk and copy them. If you’ve saved keys to the KeyMe app and sent codes to friends, they could easily share that code. And in an increasingly digital world, there’s always a possibility that the cloud-based KeyMe system could be hacked and exploited for its key codes.
A Wired article from several years ago chronicles how the writer successfully used KeyMe to break into his neighbor’s home while testing the program’s security. The writer’s neighbor lived on the second floor of a walk-up and decided to throw the writer his keys instead of walking down to open the door for him. In the 30 seconds it took the writer to ascend the stairs to the apartment, he scanned his neighbor’s key with the KeyMe app. This feature allowed him to create a copy of the key at a KeyMe kiosk and return an hour later to let himself back in.
It’s important to note that it appears KeyMe has recently removed the app feature that allows people to scan in keys with a photograph. Though this move was, perhaps, taken to make people feel safer using the service, there is still a security risk.
Anyone who has access to your keys for just 15 minutes could duplicate them at a kiosk. If someone knows how to get a car key copied with KeyMe, they could easily order a copy from a kiosk and have access to your car within a few days. And as we mentioned, there’s still the risk that cyber-criminals can access the keys you’ve saved to the app and make copies.
2. The Verification Process
To circumvent the troubling security risks we covered, KeyMe has a verification process at each kiosk. To make a key that has been saved to the KeyMe app, you’ll need a verified email address, a password and a fingerprint scan if you have one saved. While these requirements are all protective measures, they can only do so much. The KeyMe Terms and Conditions explicitly state the following:
Users are responsible for the activity that occurs on their accounts.
Users are responsible for keeping their passwords secure.
If your password isn’t very strong or someone finds out what it is, KeyMe will hold you responsible for any issues that unfold.
Another security measure KeyMe implements is that it doesn’t take cash and requires a verified credit card. In theory, this setup should ensure that they have a name connected to each key order, which they could trace in the case of wrongdoing. However, a recent Forbes article put a wrench in this theory.
To test the kiosk’s security, the author bought an Amex debit card with cash. This card could not be traced back to his name, and the kiosk allowed him to use it to purchase a key. The author’s conclusion? KeyMe does not verify credit cards to see if they are debit or credit and have clear account ownership. If someone wants to get a replacement car key for your vehicle in order to steal it, it’s possible that they could do so anonymously with the KeyMe service.
3. The Potential for Inconvenience During Lockouts
As we’ve discussed, one of the biggest marketing points for KeyMe is that you’ll never have to worry about lockouts again. While this could be true, there are many caveats:
Preparation: In order to print a new key on-demand, you need to either have that key with you or have a copy of it saved within the app. You obviously wouldn’t have the key with you during a lockout, which means your only option is to have the key saved. Unless you’ve made a copy of that key using KeyMe before, it’s unlikely that you’d have the key preemptively stored in your phone.
Proximity: If you do have the key saved and ready to print when a lockout strikes, you’ll still have to get to a KeyMe kiosk. Ideally, one would be nearby and convenient. There’s still a chance, however, that you’d need to drive out of your way to get to the kiosk and then return home with your key. By the time you’ve made this trek, you may be wishing you’d saved time by contacting a locksmith come to your location and complete the work onsite.
Key type: Only standard keys can be reproduced on the spot at a KeyMe kiosk. If you’re locked out of your car or use a high-security key, the kiosk may require you to have the key shipped to your home within a few days.
For most people, there’s no guarantee that the kiosks will provide an easier or more efficient solution than calling an experienced locksmith.
4. Not All Keys Can Be Copied
Each key manufacturer uses a unique key shape and design as its template. When you get a key copied, a locksmith or automatic kiosk has to start with a key blank from the manufacturer and match your key’s cuts. While a locksmith may need to order a blank to match less common key manufacturers, KeyMe simply won’t copy those brands.
KeyMe kiosks have a limited amount of space to hold key blanks, which confines them to the most popular options. In addition, high-security key manufacturers set distribution limits on their blanks, which means that KeyMe can duplicate only high-security key types with expired patents.
If you have a common key brand like Schlage or Kwikset, you may be covered with a KeyMe kiosk. But if your key deviates from popular manufacturers, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to reproduce a copy with KeyMe.
Why Choose a Professional Locksmith Over KeyMe?
KeyMe may be helpful in some situations, but a professional locksmith has several advantages, including:
More key blanks: A locksmith doesn’t have space constraints like an automated key duplicator. You’re more likely to be able to get key replacements from a wide assortment of manufacturers when you work with a pro.
Greater expertise: At a KeyMe kiosk, you have to pick one of several predetermined options. Locksmiths have a greater knowledge of keys and can give you recommendations based on your unique situation.
Security: When you work with a locksmith, you’re not storing valuable key data in an app with a flimsy password. You can trust that your security and privacy are being protected.
Onsite assistance: In many emergency lockout scenarios, the most beneficial option is to have a locksmith come to you. A professional locksmith can provide prompt service and keep your day moving.
Quality: The craftsmanship and quality you’ll get with a locksmith exceeds that of a KeyMe kiosk. Though KeyMe advertises itself as 10 times more accurate than traditional locksmiths, there are many review articles that state otherwise. Customers pay for cheap keys that don’t fit in their locks and ultimately waste their time. You can trust that a quality locksmith will get your key right and deliver the results you expect.
If the idea of using an automated key duplication service does not appeal to you, contact the professionals at Ernie’s Lock Co. instead. We’ve been providing reliable key replacement services in Maryland since 1960, and we can also alleviate the security concerns of using KeyMe and similar services. Ernie’s provides high-quality service, whether you’re in a pinch or you just need a duplicate key. And unlike other locksmiths, we won’t overcharge you. For more information about what Ernie’s can do for you, call (301)-277-1126 or contact us online today!
With so many issues to be concerned with in daily life, the last thing you need to worry about is your home security being threatened by inferior or compromised locks. Strong, quality locks on your front and back doors give you confidence. That’s not just when you’re away. It’s also when you’re relaxing inside, taking a shower or sleeping.
Locks are your last line of defense in protection from burglars or unauthorized intruders. Home burglaries are common throughout the United States, and it’s not always a total stranger that sneaks into your house. Unlawful entry can well be from someone you know. That could be a previous tenant, an ex-roommate or even a separated significant other.
Preventing illegal entries is your first step in a proactive approach to home security. The best security systems rely on a layered approach that integrates several devices. Good exterior lighting and clear visibility are a few of these. Motion-activated sensors are another excellent security tool. But nothing beats the value of good quality locks where you have proper key and access control.
When to Replace Door Locks
There are a number of situations where you may not have complete control of your locks. These might have occurred before your original home possession or from an event while you were away. No matter what the cause of compromised locks, there are solutions available for you to regain access control. Knowing when to change your locks will also give you peace of mind.
How often should you change your locks? That depends on different situations, so let’s take a look at the top ten reasons for replacing door locks. Then we’ll examine the best solutions, including some of the popular lock products and services available.
1. You’ve moved into a new home and taken possession of existing locks.
Even if your home is brand new and the builder presents you with keys for your front and back door locks, you have no way of knowing if others have duplicate keys. That could also include master keys.
Many builders use construction locks that are universal to their business. They keep these utility locks on doors during the building process and recycle them from house to house. Their team of subtrades and suppliers are given service keys for the construction locks, which makes day-to-day building access convenient. A competent builder will swap out construction locks for exclusive homeowner locks at the completion of the job, but you have no way of knowing who else may have keys.
Realtor lockboxes are commonly attached to homes offered for sale. This includes new homes in development communities as well as existing homes in established neighborhoods. A key for the home’s door is stashed inside the lock box, but there’s a mass of access to it. You also have no way of knowing if this key was exclusive or copied about.
Purchasing a home from an existing owner has its security risks, too. You might receive “the keys” upon completion of the sale and use them to move in. But you have no assurance that these keys were copied many times not just by the previous owner but by others before in the chain of possession. That includes family members, guests and tenants if the home had been rented out.
Don’t assume you’re getting solid lock security when you buy a new house. It’s cheap and valuable insurance to replace your door locks, and you’ll relax in peace, especially when you’re asleep or in the shower.
2. Your house has been broken into.
Burglaries are a terrible invasion of your personal space. They can be emotionally upsetting, never mind financially expensive. When you’ve experienced a break-in, you have to assume the worst. The worst-case scenario is that the burglars who did it now have possession of your keys and have control of your locks.
Even if you have a tight inventory and you feel all keys are accounted for, don’t take the chance. You can’t be assured your keys aren’t in wrong hands. Replacing your locks is a small price to pay to offset the possibility they may return for the rest of your belongings.
Many burglaries are committed by manipulating, picking or cheating the locks. If this was the method of entry in your burglary incident, it means you have inferior locks, and the break-in could easily be repeated. Locks are also damaged during break-ins and make them more vulnerable to future forced entries.
Take insurance issues into account after experiencing a burglary. If your keys were taken and a burglar returns, your insurance company may find fault that you failed in taking due diligence for prevention. This could negate a future insurance claim that could be prevented by replacing your door locks.
3. You’ve lost your keys or had them stolen.
Unfortunately, this happens far too frequently. Losing your keys is one thing. It’s terribly inconvenient to be locked out and ask someone with duplicate keys to come over and let you in. It’s also expensive to call a locksmith to attend and open up.
Having your keys stolen is entirely another matter. With lost keys, you assume someone else has access. With stolen keys, you know they’re in criminal hands, and a possible clandestine visit is only a matter of time. The sense of pending violation with stolen keys is too high a price to pay, and there’s only one solution.
Regardless of whether you’ve simply lost your keys or had a sinister theft of your best security control device, the best thing is to immediately replace your locks. Don’t let time pass in the hope your keys will be found and returned. Change your locks before the price becomes higher.
4. You’ve completed a renovation.
It’s common in renovations for many tradespeople and material suppliers to need access to your home while you’re away. This could be carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians and tile setters. It might even be your general contractor.
Even if you thoroughly trust your main contractor, you have no idea who the subtrades are and who they’re associated with. There’s no guarantee your house keys won’t be duplicated and handed off to shady characters.
Replacing your door locks at the completion of renovations will be a tiny fraction of your overall remodeling budget. It’s economical protection to invest in new locks.
5. You want a change of style.
This goes hand in hand with renovating your home. Changing style is probably one of your main reasons for upgrading your look and feel. Locks may be a small contributor to the overall plan, but it’s these small details that make your big and beautiful picture.
Your old locks may be a different brand than you prefer or manufactured in an era that shows dated style. Your existing locks may be bright brass when you’d prefer brushed nickel. Or they may be shiny chrome when your palette calls for dark steel.
Making the choice to change your locks is not difficult. It’s choosing the right style from multiple products that could be the challenge. But then, that’s part of the fun in redecorating.
6. Your locks are inferior or poor quality.
So often in older homes or places that are mass-built in tract developments, builders use the cheapest products possible to get the maximum return on their dollar. Unfortunately, when it comes to locks, it could mean security was sacrificed for savings.
Inferior or poor-quality locks are easy for burglars to break or pick. In fact, the quality of locks is often one of the main things thieves assess when casing a place. They know the marks of bad locks. They also know good locks when they see them.
Replacing your old, low-cost locks with newer and superior products is a deterrent to burglars. They know it’ll be tough to break in and not worth the effort. That, in itself, is worth the investment.
7. Your locks are old and worn out.
Locks wear out. Like any product with moving components, locks succumb to fair wear and tear. Years of repeated turning and twisting take their toll on door locks, and eventually, they’ll fail.
Take a look at your locks for signs of stress. This might be tarnish or rust. They might be stiff or extremely loose. Your locks could be in the throes of failure and ready to pack it in without warning.
Old, worn-out locks are easy to jimmy. Burglars know this and work it to their advantage. New locks are tight and tough to pick, making it impossible to open them without the right key. There’s a saying that locks are for honest people, but the real key in home security is to let honest people in and keep dishonest ones out.
8. You’ve ended a rental or roommate agreement.
This is a common reason to change door locks. Many people supplement their income with subletting a room or apartment with a rental tenant. Giving them keys to the house naturally goes with the agreement.
Once the arrangement comes to an end, it’s natural to get the keys back. Most tenant or roommate agreements come to a positive end, and all keys are returned safely and securely. Occasionally, this doesn’t happen, and keys to your home may be “floating out there,” as the figure of speech goes.
Tenants or roommates also have reason to give keys out to others. This could be without your permission or knowledge. To be sure of access control once an occupant leaves, it’s a good idea to replace the locks, even if you’ve taken in someone new.
9. You’ve gone through a break-up or divorce.
This is one of the nastiest circumstances where you might be forced to replace your locks. It might be for your actual safety, not just your sense of security.
If your relationship with a significant other has ended and they’ve been forced to vacate, make sure you change your locks and be very cautious who gets keys. Many people have experienced unwanted return visits from estranged spouses. Keeping them locked out is your main line of defense.
10. Your lifestyle changes through a disability.
Acquiring a disability is a sad fact of life for many people. It may happen to you as you age, or it may be a deteriorating condition with someone who lives in or frequents your house.
Many locks aren’t designed for people with disabilities or mobility issues. Being able to insert a key, turn it and twist a door handle is challenging for some. For others, it may be a near impossibility. Fortunately, there are simple solutions for handicapped access, and that includes door locks designed for people with disabilities.
Think outside the old lock-and-key arrangement. Today, there are sophisticated entry-pass systems that work on smartphone application and coded security. Investing in a smart lock system gives you a versatile security solution that allows for remote keyless entry with the ability to issue limited access permission.
Solutions for Replacing Your Door Locks
The simplest solutions for solving your security challenges are rekeying or replacing your door locks. Both involve some expense, and there are pros and cons to each approach.
Rekeying your locks is straightforward, but it takes someone with professional locksmithing ability. This is more than taking your lock and key to a local hardware or big box store for copying or cutting.
In rekeying, a locksmith removes the lock cylinder and alters the springs and pins to accept a new key profile. Often these parts are worn and have to be replaced. That can raise the cost over and above what an entire lock replacement will run.
Replacing your door locks is usually the best solution. It gives you the longevity of a new product and the assurance that its quality will endure anything a burglar can throw at it. Buying new locks also fits in with redecorating schemes and presents a bright, fresh glow to visitors as they approach your front door. Dollar for dollar, your best value will be in replacing your locks rather than rekeying.
If you’re planning to replace your door locks for any of these ten reasons, make sure you consider installing a new, high-technology keyless entry system like a Smart Lock. Smart Locks offer sophisticated solutions for replacing old, outdated locks. They utilize virtual keys. Numerous benefits include keyless access, increased security, remote locking capability, timed automatic locking and the unique ability to create one-time access codes for temporary visitors.
Ernie’s Lock Co. is Maryland’s Smart Lock installation expert. We carry a number of high-tech products and can match the best system for your home. Exceptional quality and reliable brands include Schlage and Medeco that are backed by comprehensive warranties to ensure years of trouble-free security.
Ernie’s is proud to provide residential service to some of Maryland’s most prestigious addresses as well as service to commercial businesses. We provide house calls to rekey or replace your existing locks and emergency service for accidental lockouts.
Since 1960, we’ve been building a reputation for reliable service, transparent pricing and exceptionally high-quality work. Consulting with a professional locksmith like Ernie’s is the best way to determine your lock replacement needs. Contact Ernie’s today to request a quote for lock rekeying services in Maryland.
Students have the right to a safe education. As technology advances, schools have access to modern-day safety methods, keeping students protected and empowered to learn.
Thanks to these innovations, schools can do away with traditional keyed locks and replace them with high-tech keyless alternatives — keeping threats outside the school and classroom and allowing students and faculty to take charge of their safety.
Here, our certified locksmith experts at Ernie’s will outline the best keyless locks on the market, customized to complement your school’s security measures and unique needs.
Key vs. Keyless Locks
Key locks are standard in both commercial and residential settings. Your school likely already has commonly used commercial mechanical locks in locations such as these.
Classroom functions: These functions, or lock types, are lockable from outside the classroom only. Classroom functions, compared to other mechanical locks, have the unique advantage that you can’t accidentally lock yourself out. But, if an emergency is in progress, keyholders put themselves at risk, as they have to leave the classroom to lock the door.
Classroom security functions: Like classroom functions, classroom security functions allow keyholders to lock the door from the inside. These functions cause classroom disruptions, as teachers have to continually let students in during lectures.
Office function: The office function’s defining characteristic is their inside button or lever, where anyone — even people without a key — can control the lock by engaging or disengaging the lever. Some may prefer office functions in low-risk scenarios, but disorderly students can use this feature to their advantage.
Overall, key lock types have their advantages, but they come with disadvantages like:
Accidentally locking yourself out, in most cases.
Lack of access control.
The nuisance of carrying keys around, and the added risk of losing them.
Keyless locks, as you might have guessed, eliminate the need for keys and fix these disadvantages. These modern lock types use technological systems that allow security to electronically tailor access to specific destinations using an electronic key.
For example, teachers can access role-appropriate rooms, like their classroom, workroom and teachers’ lounge. Meanwhile, maintenance staff can have access to janitorial closets and early or late access to classrooms.
How Do Keyless Locks Work?
Although keyless locks might seem futuristic, you’ve likely used one before. One common example is a car door, which you unlock and lock with a key fob.
Keyless locks — also referred to as electric locks — work under the same principle as mechanical locks. Both use a latch, which secures the space between the door and the doorframe. This latch activates via a key, either locking or unlocking the spring bolt or deadbolt.
While mechanical locks require traditional keys, keyless locks rely on electronic keys, like:
Biometrics, such as a fingerprint.
Smart cards via smartphone.
In a school setting, we recommend sticking with either a key fob or personalized cards. When you click or scan your key, it activates the lock’s internal motor, which an electrical impulse controls. The motor won’t unlock without the right key unless you choose to have a master key, which can mechanically unlock the electrical motor.
The overarching function of keyless locks is to keep faculty and students safe in an emergency following safety organization-established codes.
Why Is It Necessary to Keep School Locks Up to Date?
Schools are vast. They contain vulnerable exterior access points and internal mazes, which elicit high-risk scenarios. Updated keyless lock systems manage these vulnerabilities with responsive technology that complies with the standards set by various school safety organizations.
The Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) sets the general standard on overall school safety measures. The FCSS recommends “hardening the classroom” — empowering teachers to provide students with concealment and protection against harm. Additionally, the FCSS states that all classrooms should have locks that are lockable from the inside via a key, code or other credentials.
The National Association of State Fire Marshals supports this claim, stating that commercial locks should be unlockable from inside the classroom using a single motion to allow for safe exit during an emergency, such as a fire evacuation. What’s more, identified faculty should always be able to unlock the door from the outside, in the hallway.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) goes deeper into the locks themselves, setting industry standards on the integrity of keyed and keyless locks. Some locks, like most keyless locks, go beyond ANSI’s standards, increasing the safety of everyone inside the school.
Failure to meet these standards puts students and faculty at risk. These standards change as technology advances and threats evolve, highlighting the importance of maintaining effective school door locks.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your School’s Locks?
If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your school’s locks, or there’s no recent documentation on previous administrations changing them, you probably need to update the lock system.
Consider these other signs your school needs new locks.
You’re in the process of upgrading your school: If you’re already renovating or adding to your school, you might as well update your locks, too. Outdated schools likely have equally antiquated lock systems. Avoid overlooking this crucial safety upgrade.
You’ve experienced an emergency or break-in: Unfortunately, schools aren’t invincible to break-ins. Recent break-ins or emergencies are telltale signs that your locks need replacing — and that they need to be sturdier and more reliable.
Your current lock system is vulnerable: It’s easy for mechanical keys to get lost, misplaced or stolen. If the wrong person finds the key, they gain access to secured areas within your school.
Every school’s lock system is different depending on their campus size, security protocols, the daily flow of operations and allotted budget. Luckily, lock systems are customizable to meet each school’s needs, but you may still be wondering — what is the best lock system for your school?
How to Choose the Right Classroom Locks
For the highest-level protection, we recommend upgrading your current lock system to electric technology or investing in a completely new keyless lock system. Keep in mind that the keyless locks you use on classroom doors will be different than those you use at exits and entrances.
Customize your school-wide lock system by answering the following questions:
How often will each lock see use?
Who will be using the lock?
Is the lock easily operable?
Will you need to change locks or codes frequently?
Do you want the doors to lock automatically?
Do the locks correspond with previously outlined safety protocols, other safety codes and Americans with Disability Acts’ standards?
Do the lock systems correlate with existing security measures?
Can the locks quickly respond in the event of an emergency?
What are your budget constraints?
With your team, compile your answers to these questions and create a comprehensive list of your lock systems’ must-haves.
Does Your School Need to Renovate Its Entire Lock System?
No, you don’t have to replace your entire lock system all at once, as long as your current locks meet existing standards. But, we recommend doing so if your budget allows for it.
If you choose to progressively update your school’s lock system, start with its most vulnerable areas. Such areas include any entries or exits and rooms like computer labs that house expensive equipment. Again, these areas will vary, based on your campus.
The Best Keyless Entry Door Locks for Schools
Keyless locks are rapidly growing technologies available in different forms to protect all areas of your school. Identify areas within the interior and exterior of your campus that require safety reinforcement, and consider the following keyless locks to integrate into your lock system.
Electrical Access Control Systems
Above all else, we strongly recommend installing an electronic access system throughout your school. Electronic access control systems are very advanced, giving you access to specialized safety protocols like these.
Key card or fob security: Instead of traditional keys — which can get lost, copied or abused — schools administer key cards or fobs, depending on their preference. If a key card or fob gets lost, or a faculty member leaves, you can quickly remove their access from the system.
Customizable room access: All key cards or fobs are customizable. Each faculty member has their respective key card or fob, which security personnel can digitally manage, allowing access to appropriate rooms and restricting access to others.
Data collection: Security personnel can also track where each faculty member travels. Schools can use this data for business intelligence, as well as employee evaluation.
Visitor management: Schools can supply visitors or temporary faculty, like substitute teachers, with one-time access codes for traffic filtration — keeping unwanted visitors out and all students and faculty safe inside the building.
Fast response to emergencies: If a breach occurs, security gets a real-time notification that an emergency may be in progress. Security can quickly perform an emergency lockdown by pushing a panic button.
One downside to electrical access control systems is their cost. Key lock systems are comparatively inexpensive, but they’re also less reliable. If you’re looking for maximum emergency protection, we recommend making the long-term investment now, instead of wishing you had in the future.
Entry and Exit Door Devices
Another must-have keyless lock system is exit hardware, also known as panic hardware. All schools must have exit door devices, so students and faculty can safely evacuate the building in an emergency.
Exit doors have distinctive hardware — namely, a panic bar. The panic bar should be easy to reach and require no less than 15 pounds of force to release the latch. That way, younger students and disabled people can safely evacuate the building, too.
Exit hardware can operate either by mechanical or electrical dogging. The dogging feature allows people to open the exit door anytime, both from the inside and outside. Electrical dogging allows security personnel to integrate electrical access control system technology and disable the feature if the need arises.
Odds are, your school already has exit door devices that use mechanical dogging features. Instead of reinstalling completely new entry and exit doors, a licensed and experienced locksmith can upgrade the mechanical features to complement your other electrical access control systems, creating the best keyless entry system for your school.
How Ernie’s Lock Company, Inc. Can Help Protect Your School
Since 1960, Ernie’s top priority has been to provide quality, full-service locksmithing to the Maryland and D.C. Metro area. Our licensed locksmiths specialize in commercial services — and no job is too big or too small.
Like you, we value the safety of our communities’ students and educators. Education is a valuable tool for success, and students of all levels should feel safe in their academic environment. We can equip your school with the most advanced and intelligent safety solutions, like our high-tech electronic access control systems.
Transparency is part of the promise we make to you. With us, you can expect upfront honesty about our service and prices, whereas our competitors will promise you inexpensive services, yet charge you costly post-service fees.
We stand behind our quality service so proudly that we offer all our clients a 90-day workmanship warranty.
Areas Ernie’s Serves
Not sure if we can serve your area? Check with us online, or give us a call! Ernie’s covers the following communities within the Maryland and D.C. metropolitan area:
When you call other companies, you can expect lengthy paperwork and a long wait time. Not with Ernie’s. We make locksmithing easy and hassle-free for our customers.
We’ll promptly send one of our licensed locksmiths to your school for an upfront quote on the ideal lock system for you. We use durable products — including industry-leading brands like Medeco, Corbin Russwin and Von Duprin — and top-tier customer service to deliver the best lock system to your Maryland or District of Columbia school.
Contact Ernie’s Lock and Browse Our Services Online
Ready to upgrade your school’s lock system? Ernie’s is eager to help. Contact our locksmiths online by visiting our website, or speak to a locksmith directly by calling Ernie’s at 301-277-1126. Not sure if electrical access control systems are the best fit for your school? Ask us about our commercial mechanical lock systems, too!
It’s probably happened to all of us at one time or another: You walk up to the front door of your home or apartment and start rummaging through your pockets or purse. You can’t find your key. Then it slowly hits you — you’ve locked yourself out.
Locking yourself out of your home can be a major problem, or a minor distraction. That distinction largely lies with factors such as weather, time of day and if you are standing in front of a home, on the stoop of your building or inside facing an apartment. If it’s later at night, during a cold winter month, locking yourself out can even be dangerous.
What to Do If You Are Locked Out of Your House
There’s no use in crying over spilled milk. You need to get inside your home as soon as possible. Here are a few ideas on how you can do it.
1. Check Other Doors
The first thing to try is perhaps the most obvious. If you were absent-minded enough to wind up locked outside the house, there is a chance you may have forgotten to secure some of your other doors. So check all your home’s other entry points: patio doors, garage doors, side doors. There may be an outside chance one of them is open.
Word of warning: Don’t ever try to force open an outside door. Not only will you ruin the door, but you can also hurt yourself.
2. Check First-Floor Windows
If all the doors are locked, perhaps a window may be open on the first floor. Many people faithfully lock their doors, but don’t necessarily latch the windows. If you find a window that’s big enough for you to crawl through, carefully remove the screen and check what’s on the inside before you enter the window. You wouldn’t want to knock over your grandmother’s heirloom vase, your TV or crush your plants.
Entering through a window is another way you can hurt yourself, so proceed with caution.
3. Find Someone Who May Have a Key
Depending on your living situation, your significant other, roommate or even a family member may have another copy of the key. Call them and tell them, “I’m locked out of my house.” If you rent, your landlord will probably have an extra set of keys. You will have to arrange to meet them to pick them up. If you live in an apartment, visit the superintendent and let them know you locked yourself out.
Be sure you have identification, especially if you live in a large apartment complex. The managers may not know everybody who lives there, and may require you to identify yourself before they open your door.
4. Ask for Help
If you’ve locked yourself out, it’s unlikely you have any tools on hand that you might be able to use to get back into your home, such as a screwdriver, a coat hanger, bobby pins or other items you can use to open your door or a window in a pinch.
There’s a good chance, however, your neighbors can help you out. Most neighbors are more than happy to loan these kinds of items to somebody who is locked out of their home. If it’s a cold day or night, there is also a good chance they’ll invite you inside for a coffee or a cup of hot chocolate. If they have some advice on how to get back into your home, listen.
Choose a laminated card, which tends to work better because it will be more flexible. Don’t use a credit card you rely on, because this approach can chew it up.
If you do get in, immediately call a professional locksmith to come to your home and install a better lock, because you just proved how easy it is for someone to get into your house.
6. Remove the Doorknob
Here is another idea not everyone recommends, but if you’re desperate, it might work. You’ll need a screwdriver to remove the exterior doorknob. You’ll find a small latch near the base of the knob. Push it in and remove the knob. Then, use the screwdriver or your finger to pull the latch back.
7. Call a Locksmith
When all else fails, let a pro do it. Professional locksmiths help people out in emergencies all the time. They are quick and efficient and will have you back inside your home in no time. If you live within a 10-mile radius of our location in Riverside Park, Md., call us and say, “I’ve locked myself out of my house.” We’ll be there as quickly as we can.
How to Prevent Lockouts
After you’re back in your house, the issue now facing you is how to ensure you don’t get locked out of the home again.
1. Hide a Set of Spare Keys
This method will only work with a reliable hiding place. That does not mean under the front mat, a phony-looking rock or your mailbox. Those are among the first places a potential thief would look for a key. Instead, select a tree in the back of your property, and hang your key on a nail on the side facing away from the road and the house. Another idea is to tape a spare key to your outside air conditioning unit, but in a place where it’s easy to reach, you won’t hurt yourself reaching for it and it won’t damage the machine.
2. Give a Spare to a Neighbor
The person you ask to be the keeper of your spare key does not have to be someone next door. It could be anyone trustworthy in the neighborhood. Entrusting someone nearby with an extra house key is a smart idea, especially if you’ve locked yourself out more than once.
3. Try a Keyless or Smart Lock
These modern options are not as expensive as you might think. Keyless or smart locks can use codes or even an app on your smartphone to grant you access to your home. If you want this kind of lock, however, make sure you let a professional locksmith install it.
4. Make Picking up Your Keys a Habit
Try putting your keys with other items you always need to take with you when you leave the house, such as your wallet or phone. Another idea is perhaps to post a sign near or on the front door: “Did you remember the house keys?”
When You Need Residential Lock Services, Call Ernie’s Lock
When you need a locksmith to help you get back into your home, contact Ernie’s Lock. We’ve been helping people get back into their homes in Maryland since 1960. We provide emergency service within a 10-mile radius of our shop in Riverside Park.
We’ll give you a free estimate over the phone. You can send us a picture, a text or an email that shows the problem, which helps us get a good idea of how we can help when quoting you a price. We also arrive as promptly as possible in an emergency like a lockout.
You can call us at 301-277-1126. We can also help you with your home’s other security needs. Visit our contact us page, where you can leave us your information and a few details about how we can help.
For many students, staff and faculty around the country, going to school is just part of their daily routine. Navigating through the hallways and going from class to class has become second nature, so many students don’t even think about it. School should be a place for students to learn, grow and make new friends. Therefore, feeling safe is the last thing students, staff and faculty should have to worry about as they work through the school year. However, recent events have shifted students’ sense of security, which is why it’s crucial to discuss the importance of school and classroom safety.
School and Classroom Safety: Why It’s Important
As defined by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, school safety refers to schools as well as school-related activities where students are safe from bullying, harassment, violence and substance abuse. School and classroom safety has been proven to link to positive outcomes for the school and students. If students feel safe in their school, they are more likely to be high achievers academically.
More specifically, feeling physically safe in school is also related to fewer risky behaviors and lower dropout rates. If students can feel at ease in school, they can focus on their work and feel more connected to their school without having to worry about their safety. On the flip side, in schools with higher levels of “collective hostility” — measured by student reports of feeling unsafe, gang presence and frequency of fighting between different student groups — student achievement is more likely to suffer.
What’s the consensus when it comes to students’ thoughts on feeling safe in school? According to a survey that asked 35,000 fifth-through-twelfth graders across eight different states if they feel safe in the classroom, about two-thirds said yes. While this is certainly a majority of students who feel safe inside the classroom, how do they feel as they go outside or travel the hallways?
When it comes to the school outside of the classroom, only 59% said they felt safe at school in general while 55% of students said they felt safe outside the school building, still on school property. Meanwhile, only 54% said they felt safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms.
Some students also feel that there is a disconnect between their worries and the concerns of the school’s staff and faculty. According to Safe and Sound Schools, students reported feeling like their school was in denial about the possibility of danger. Additionally, more than half of the students surveyed believe their school lacks awareness regarding school safety issues. The students also think their schools falsely believe that events taking place around the country could never happen at their school.
With school shootings becoming more frequent occurrences, it’s understandable why students and even parents are hesitant when it comes to school safety. By October 2019, Education Week reported that there had been 17 school shootings with injuries or deaths that year alone. In a world where kids are feeling scared just to get an education, it’s time to have conversations with students, staff and faculty to stress the importance of school safety. One way to help increase efforts of school safety is to establish and enforce school rules that everyone can follow.
Safety Rules in the School
With more than 76 million students currently enrolled in schools across the U.S., it’s essential to have specific rules and protocols to keep things safe. Since school is ultimately the place for students to learn and interact with others, rules can help keep things orderly and secure so students can continue a worry-free education.
Update school safety plans often. A school safety plan that was created for your school last year runs the risk of being outdated. It’s crucial to get in the habit of reviewing safety plans often and updating them as necessary. Since each school year is different, you should incorporate problems that arise during the school year into the next year’s safety plan, if not sooner. Your school should also think about which concerns it finds the most important to the community, so the school may focus its efforts on those specific concerns.
Go over safety policies with the staff, students and parents frequently. A school’s staff must have a clear understanding of all safety policies so they can appropriately enforce the policies with their students. For teachers to be the best they can be, they must be all on the same page. Classroom safety rules should be readily available and distributed throughout the school to each room. Teachers should also make sure their students are taking home these safety policies so parents can also stay up to date with any vital information. Some schools come up with different ways to share policies — such as using pictures or videos — to move away from the repetitive method of distributing a traditional printed out list of rules.
Provide safety training for teachers. As a teacher, you are responsible for the 20 to 30 students in your classroom at any given time. With training opportunities, you can feel more prepared to protect. There are a few different options for training your school may offer. Some courses teach staff how to keep behaviors under control and address a situation before it gets out of hand. Others focus on how to see the different warning signs of crisis to take action fast. Some programs are for students and staff, covering numerous problems from bullying to fire extinguisher safety, while others help prepare staff for an active shooter situation.
Orchestrate a school safety squad with other staff and faculty. If safety is high on your school’s list of priorities, you may decide you need a safety committee! With other staff and faculty in your school, you can team up and volunteer to delve even deeper into safety measures. By assigning different members of the committee individual roles, such as an emergency planner or communication coordinator, people can feel like they’re making a difference. Roles also help hold people accountable while making problem management significantly easier.
Establish an emergency response plan. In any emergency, your school must know how to respond appropriately. By creating a clearly outlined emergency response plan with four key components — prevent, prepare, respond and recover — you’re on the right track. For prevention, it’s important to develop rules and resources, such as anti-violence or anti-bullying policies to try and keep problems at bay. But problems are inevitable, which is why you must also have a plan for responding to an emergency. Have a crisis communication strategy to inform parents and the public about what happened. Emergencies don’t end there, so it’s essential you also have a recovery plan to start putting the pieces back together and move forward.
Practice safety drills often. Even if your school has regularly scheduled safety drills once a month, it’s important to continue practicing them with your students in the classroom. From weather drills to lockdown drills, students must prepare for any situation and know what to do.
Incorporate emergency awareness into the curriculum. Depending on how serious your school is about emergency preparedness and the flexibility of the curriculum, you may be able to include emergency awareness into lessons in the classroom. FEMA’s Youth Emergency Preparedness Curriculum-Ready Kits allow students in grades one through 12 to learn more about responding to an emergency while still practicing everyday skills. Ready Kids is another place kids, teens, families and educators and organizations can go to learn more about emergency preparedness through numerous resources.
How to Keep Your School and Classroom Safe
Considering the importance of school safety, the different ways to secure your school and classroom continue to grow. To keep your school and classroom safe, consider these tips for added peace of mind.
1. Only Allow People Entry From One Specific Place
One clear, designated entry point makes it easier to keep track of everyone coming in and out. To determine if your school is using the safest entrance possible, your school may want to perform a safety audit. A safety audit looks at things such as how your school is locking doors and how visitors enter the school. It can also find any line of sight issues and determine how people move throughout the building. With one entry point, many schools also put up some form of intercom call box at the entrance to communicate visitors and see why they need to enter the building.
2. Enforce a Tight Visitor Policy
Since parents trust schools to keep their children safe, all schools must maintain a strict policy on visitors coming in and out of the building. Front office staff should require all visitors to go through a check-in process. Visitors must show ID, provide a phone number, write the date and time of arrival and explain why they’re visiting the school. To distinguish staff and faculty from visitors, staff and faculty should be required to wear a photo ID badge.
3. Introduce Visitor Management Software
While some schools have visitors sign in with a pen on paper, other schools are gravitating toward visitor management software for extra precautionary measures when it comes to visitors. Since log-in sheets may not always get filled out or could easily become lost, having software to check visitors in is both easier and more reliable. Visitor management software can also run all state-issued IDs through a database, which helps schools learn about who is coming through their door. Visitor management software may also be able to run background checks for that extra layer of security. When the data the visitor management software collects is put into cloud storage, you can keep better track of who is visiting your school at any time.
4. Keep Front Doors Locked
Once the day starts, your school’s front entrance should be locked up and secure. While students enter school at the beginning of the day and leave school at the end of the day, school staff or faculty should watch the entrances and exits and control flow of who’s coming in and who’s going out. It would also be a good idea to ensure all classrooms have working locks. In the case of a lockdown drill or real-life crisis, it’s essential to ensure no one can gain access to your room. It’s crucial to teach your students that they shouldn’t open the door for anyone until they know who’s knocking. For security’s sake, school entrances should have two sets of locked doors that can be easily seen on security footage.
5. Make Sure Technology Is Up to Date
In addition to the front entrance, security cameras may be set up elsewhere around the school. But with technology, you must make sure it’s updated. What good is a security camera if the quality is so bad you can’t even make out the footage? Technology also refers to classroom telephones, walkie-talkies and intercoms throughout the building. In an emergency where you need to communicate with other faculty and staff, these tools must be in good working order. As technology progresses, your school can look into new and improved methods of security. Examples include video surveillance that also takes pictures of people coming into the building or emergency buttons that immediately notify 911 when pushed.
Increase Safety at Your School With Ernie’s Locksmith and Key Services
To ensure everyone can continue to keep school a safe place, we must have conversations about the importance of school safety. This includes going over school and classroom rules and identifying other ways everyone can feel secure in the building. Whether you’re looking for custom master key systems or to install keyless and electronic access systems, Ernie’s Lock Company can provide quality commercial locksmith and security services to schools in Riverdale, MD and surrounding areas. We understand that there’s no better investment than an investment in security, so contact Ernie’s Lock Company today for your commercial locksmith needs.
You do what you can to keep your property safe. Whether you have a home, apartment or business, you lock your doors to protect yourself. In some cases, our locks can’t always guard our homes. For many situations, you must change your locks so they can do their job correctly.
When you change your lock, you choose an entirely new lock system to replace your old one. Customize your security with a new lock system that fits the look of your property, all while keeping everything secure. But how often should you change locks?
We at Ernie’s Lock Company know the importance of keeping your family, possessions or business safe. Below you’ll find our recommendations of when to change your locks. Plan for life’s surprises and prepare for when you may need to replace door locks. When it’s time, contact us for help when you’re unsure how to change the locks on your house.
Changing Locks on a New House or Property
One of the most common reasons to change your locks is purchasing a new home or property. Many new homeowners or individuals who have acquired a business neglect to replace their locks. Changing the locks on a new house or building, however, is a crucial step when you move. You care about your employees, your family members and everything else in your home or business, so take the first step in protecting them.
No matter how you acquired it, you may not know why it’s necessary to change locks on a newly-purchased property. Don’t take the chance of keeping the same locks. Consider these reasons for changing your locks:
The previous owner left a copy of their key with a friend, neighbor or family member.
The previous owner lost a copy of their key or had it stolen without changing the locks.
The previous owner still has a copy of their key that they did not turn over.
The property is a foreclosure with a disgruntled past owner who still has access to a key.
Construction workers who built your new house may have kept or copied a key.
Real estate agents or those with access to their keys could have access to your home.
Don’t let any of the concerns above overshadow the exciting experience of moving into a new place or starting a new business. Whether you need commercial lock services or residential security, a reliable locksmith can protect you, your possessions and your property. Even if you know the past owners or contractors of your new property, it’s not worth the risk. Individuals you do not know or trust could have had access to the property in the past. Save yourself future troubles by hiring a locksmith to replace your locks.
Be sure to examine your property, taking note of exterior doors with locks that a locksmith should replace for you. It’s easy to focus on your front door, but people could have keys to different entrances. Don’t allow for any cracks in the defense of your property. Whether you own or rent the building, you should take this precaution. Even those living in apartment complexes should change their locks upon moving in unless the landlord has already made replacements.
Evicting Tenants and Other Landlord Concerns
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to those living in your building. Tenants have the right to habitability, meaning a safe and livable space. One main feature of habitability is a door with a lock. Though it may seem simple, you should also take on the responsibility of maintaining those locks. Changing locks can keep you and your tenants safe after any number of situations and enforces habitability.
Take the precaution of changing locks after:
Evicting tenants: For the security of your building and future renters, you should change your locks after evicting a tenant. Evicted tenants may be defiant, and you don’t want to risk letting them back into your building. While you can collect any keys they have, you never know if a copy of the key is somewhere out there. Be sure not to change the locks on your tenant’s apartment before evicting them, though.
Tenants move out: Even if your renter moves out by choice and returns their key, they may have made a copy or given one to friends or family. Change the locks to protect yourself and future tenants. Let new renters know that you changed the locks to provide them with peace of mind and ensure them about habitability.
Tenants made copies of keys: Hopefully, your renters will be honest about making copies of keys. They should return copies made to you when they move. Sometimes, you won’t be so lucky to have honest tenants. If your renter returns copies rather than original keys or if you suspect they made copies, change the locks to be safe.
Other security issues: Break-ins, breakups and other problems may require you to change locks for current tenants. Individuals living in your building may request to change their locks, or you may make the choice and notify them. No matter how you go about changing the locks, it will create a habitable and safe building for your tenants.
Seek out a locksmith for evictions and other issues to keep everyone in your building protected. Be sure to notify your tenants properly about any lock changes so you follow the law and enhance the safety of your building.
If you take the vital step of changing your locks as a response to the issues above, your tenants will feel that they can trust you. They’ll want to live at your property longer since they know it is a safe place. The act of replacing locks shows your dedication to your tenants.
Lost or Stolen Keys
There’s no need to worry if you misplace your keys somewhere in your home and find them later, but if you ever lose your keys while you’re out and about, your first concern should be the security of your home or business. If you know someone stole your keys, contact your insurance company and the police to report the incident. After you’ve notified authorities, hire a professional locksmith to change your lock right away.
If you do lose your keys, it’s time to act quickly and replace your locks. If you’re considering the risk of leaving the locks the same, think about these possibilities:
Someone could have stolen your keys.
A stranger could recover your lost keys and attempt to use them.
If you don’t have a copy of your key, you may be locked out.
While losing a key doesn’t automatically mean someone will use it to enter your home or business, it’s better to be safe. Individuals can take lost or stolen keys to a kiosk to make a copy of your key with no questions asked. Machines can duplicate keys marked “do not duplicate.” There are also individuals who do not take care to read the message and who copy these keys. Even if you find your keys again or someone returns them to you, you should still take the safe route and replace your locks.
Regardless of how long you’ve lost your keys for, assume someone has found them. While you can’t know for sure what they will do with your key, it’s safer to assume the worst in this case. Since individuals with keys commit a percentage of home invasions and break-ins, you shouldn’t take the gamble when you lose a key. But merely losing a key isn’t the only event that makes your locks vulnerable.
Other Reasons to Change Locks
Just because none of the above has happened to you, there are still reasons to change your locks. Replace the locks in your home or business if you’ve experienced any of the following:
Theft or break-ins: If you have suffered a break-in, protect your home so you do not experience another tragedy. Check for dents or scuff marks to determine if a burglar has tampered with a security device. Damaged doorknobs and locks can become flaws in security down the line, which leaves you vulnerable to another incident.
Change in staffing: As employees leave your business, whether it was their choice or yours, consider changing your locks to keep your employees and property protected. Fired employees may become disgruntled individuals, and you do not want to take the risk of them accessing your business.
Roommate moving out: Even if your roommate moves out on amicable terms, you should still take the precaution of changing your locks. Breakups can create disgruntled former roommates, so be sure to take the same care if your relationship has ended. If you rent, be sure to speak with your landlord about making the change so you have their approval for a locksmith to come and secure your space.
Renovations: Inviting contractors into your home may have left you with a fresh new space, but you may also have a security risk on your hands. If you were away while contractors and other employees completed work, you likely provided them with a key. While we hope individuals who work in your home are professional and responsible, they could have made copies of your key. Consider changing your locks for the safety of your newly-renovated home.
Having a house sitter: Friends, family or neighbors can be helpful when you’ve been away for work or vacation, but unless you trust your house sitter completely, you may want to consider changing your locks. While changing them every time you go away may be a bit drastic, definitely change your locks if your house sitter doesn’t return your key or returns a copy.
The events above depend on other individuals accessing your keys, but sometimes the locks may be the problem. Update your locks if you have:
Damaged locks: Broken or damaged locks cannot correctly guard your home. Intruders can easily tamper with damaged locks, and broken locks may not even function properly to secure your property.
Old locks: To prevent damaged locks in the future, keep track of when you’ve last changed your locks. If it’s been some time, your locks may be weaker and prone to tampering. Maintain regular replacements, and purchase high-quality security installed by a professional to help your locks work their best.
Outdated locks: If your locks are old in appearance, you may want to update them to match the aesthetic or your home. Even modern doorknobs and locks may not match your plans for new decor, so feel free to have a locksmith update them. The new style will come with the added security benefit of a new and functioning lock.
Regain comfort, control and security in your home after you’ve changed the locks. Don’t let events like these threaten your security or your property.
How Often to Change Locks
You should change your locks as often as you find yourself in the situations above. If you’re lucky enough not to encounter those problems, you should still change locks on occasion. You don’t need to change your locks every few months — unless that’s how often events above happen to you. Consult with a locksmith to see if your locks should be updated.
You can prevent having to change your locks frequently by taking some precautions like:
Only give your key or copies of it to people you trust
Keep track of your keys and who has copies
Make a note of how many copies you’ve made of your key
Avoid putting your address on keys or keychains
Only give older and responsible children in your household a key
Treat locks and keys carefully as you would other mechanical objects
These steps can prevent you from changing your locks often, but try to have locksmiths install new locks in your home or business on occasion. Treat changing your locks as necessary upkeep of your property. Just as you change the batteries in your smoke detector to keep yourself safe, you should change the locks on your exterior doors. Your tenants, roommates or family members will appreciate the effort you’ve taken to protect them and their possessions.
Contact Ernie’s Lock Company to Change Your Locks
If any of the above reasons to change locks apply to you, and you’re in Prince George’s County or nearby Maryland locations, contact us at Ernie’s Lock Company. Our reliable and efficient lock services will help you secure your home and business. If you prefer to talk to someone in person, visit our physical location to learn about us and our services.
Whether you need a locksmith for evictions or you’re changing locks on a new house, we’re ready to help. Our licensed technicians can solve your residential or commercial lock and key problems in a timely and professional manner. Don’t let strangers, past renters or disgruntled former employees make you fear your own property. Remember the above reasons to change your locks, and contact Ernie’s today to secure your home or business.
If you’re a business owner, a landlord or a commercial property manager, you might be interested in learning more about master key door lock systems and how they operate. A property with multiple doors, duties and employees can be difficult to balance when it comes to granting access while maintaining security.
Here’s everything you need to know about master key installation and how it can improve your business:
What Is a Master Key System?
A master key system is a lock system that allows different types of keys to unlock the same doors to enhance security. Each door on a property may have its own individual key that cannot open anything but its specific lock, but a master key has the capability to unlock every door.
How Does It Work?
Basic pin tumbler locks — the most common kind of lock — operates with key and driver pins within a cylinder. When you insert a key into the key plug, it lifts the pins to a specified height, called the shear line, and allows the lock to open. Master key locks have two shear lines: one for the change keys or sub-master keys, which open only individual doors, and one for master keys, which open them all.
Although the master key is usually the highest-ranking in the system, sometimes businesses might use grand-master or great-grand-master keys, which have the ability open multiple master key systems.
Benefits of Using a Master Key System
Master key systems offer multiple benefits for convenience, control and security. They make restricted access possible, meaning you can give employees keys to only specific doors while you have access to them all. Master keys also eliminate the need to carry heavy key rings and designate which key opens what door — you’ll have one key to do it all.
Reinforce the safety, security and ease of managing your business or property by investing in a master key system.
Install a Master Key System With Ernie’s
If you’re ready to make your master key move, trust Ernie’s Lock and Key to deliver the service and system you’re looking for. Providing top-notch locksmith and key services to Maryland and the Metro D.C. area since 1960, we’ll keep your business secure. Contact us today.
Ernie's Lock Company, Inc. believes in full transparency when it comes to pricing! We always provide honest, competitive and up-front pricing to our customers - we don't like sticker shock. Call our licensed locksmiths today for pricing & custom quotes!